ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – A somewhat beleaguered voice, the one belonging to New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, took a few moments to recite what he believes awaits his struggling defense Sunday when the Denver Broncos arrive at MetLife Stadium.
Ryan, asked about what he sees in Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning since Manning’s return to the field in 2012 following his fourth next surgery, said in a conference call Wednesday;
“I don’t see a difference. I just see one of the best, if not the best player in the league, like always. To say he’s a machine, he’s not a machine. The guy’s just awesome. He’s the best offensive coordinator in the league; he just happens to be playing quarterback, and a Hall of Fame quarterback at that."
And on the Broncos’ offense in general, Ryan offered, with tongue in cheek at times;
“This [Demaryius] Thomas kid might be as good a receiver as there is in the league and by the way you’ve got the best slot receiver in [Wes] Welker, [Emmanuel] Sanders is second in the league in catches. The good news is this [Julius] Thomas kid has only got 19 touchdowns since last season. Really a group that’s struggling. It’s a joke; they’re loaded offensively."
As an NFL defensive coordinator or head coach, Ryan has faced a Manning-led offense seven times. Manning is 5-2 as a starter in those games, though in one of the losses – in the 2009 regular season – then-Colts head coach Tony Dungy pulled Manning from a Week 16 game after one series in the third quarter against the Jets because they Colts had entered the game at 14-0 with their playoff seeding already determined. The Colts beat Ryan's Jets in the AFC divisional round four weeks later.
In their four losses, the Jets have surrendered at least 272 yards passing in three games, and opposing offenses have averaged 5.7, 4.1, 5.5 and 6.2 yards per play. In the last two Jets losses, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 70.6 percent of his passes and San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers completed 71.4 percent of his. They combined for five touchdown passes and one interception.