FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan addressed a brushfire last week in his own locker room, and now there's another one burning because Smokey the Bear himself got caught playing with matches.
The New York Jets' coach opened his mouth Wednesday and let something out that should've stayed in.
Speaking on a conference call with San Diego reporters, Ryan said he'd already have two Super Bowl rings if he had been hired by the Chargers in 2007. Ryan, who interviewed for the job, said, "I'm telling you, those teams were loaded." That was a slight toward Norv Turner, who landed the head-coaching gig in '07 and has yet to reach a Super Bowl.
Ryan is the son of a coach and has tremendous respect for the profession, and it's not in his DNA to insult a counterpart. There's no way he meant it maliciously. At the same time, there's also bravado in his DNA, and it gets him into trouble because he has no filter.
This is one of those times.
Ryan, preparing for a big game against the Chargers, reached out to Turner to clarify his remarks. Maybe he called because he realized he might have said something that wasn't cool. Or maybe he called in response to the blog posts and stories that started coming immediately out of San Diego. Ryan already had met with the New York media, and wasn't available to explain.
Turner is a pretty low-key coach, but he apparently wasn't amused. At first, he downplayed it, saying the league doesn't need more coaching drama in the aftermath of the Jim Harbaugh vs. Jim Schwartz incident. But Turner managed to tweak Ryan, making it a full-fledged war of words.
"I hadn't seen his quote and I was a little bit surprised by the call," Turner said. "And then after I saw the quote, I didn't have a chance to ask him this, but I was wondering if he had those rings with the ones he's guaranteed the last couple of years."
The timing of this makes it kind of amusing. For the past three weeks, Ryan has been besieged with questions about some of his players making controversial remarks, escalating last week with the Santonio Holmes-Brandon Moore spat.
Ryan gives his players the freedom to speak their minds, claiming that policy never will change, but he felt compelled to address Holmes vs. Moore, telling the team, "Enough is enough."
Some will try to make this story bigger than it is, saying Ryan's comments also are an indictment of his own team's talent base. But that would be a stretch. Remember, this is the guy who predicted a Super Bowl the day he was hired. Obviously, he liked his team enough to make that bold claim.
This much is certain: For the first time since 2008, when it was Eric Mangini vs. Bill Belichick, the Jets will have a postgame handshake that matters. On Sunday, the cameras will focus on Ryan and Turner, with an entire football-watching nation wondering if they're going to reprise the Dueling Jims.
How can Ryan defuse the situation? Easy. He already has a plan for these type of situations.
Just name himself a game captain.