|Chris Mortensen on D&H: Trash talk ‘does kind of diminish the respect we should have for Rex [Ryan]‘||01.12.11 at 1:29 pm ET|
ESPN NFL insider Chris Mortensen joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Patriots-Jets playoff matchup and the confident chatter coming from the Jets camp, specifically from coach Rex Ryan and cornerback Antonio Cromartie. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Asked if he had ever seen a coach and players more willing to speak their minds than this edition of the Jets, Mortensen said, “No. Never. … Right now, you’ve got so many stories going on, it’s hard to, like, OK, let me roll my sleeves and spend a lot of time wondering if there’s a discussion that’s going on behind the scenes saying, ‘Let’s really chatter, yap it up this week,’ in a way just to re-energize the team after the butt-whupping they took the last time they were in New England. Because if they take another one, you know, whatever. What’s the difference? I’ve never seen anything like it. I really haven’t.
“Listen, when your coach is out there doing it — and Rex really does have a lot of respect for Bill Belichick. And who wouldn’t? And it appears Belichick respects Rex. But when your head coach does it, it just basically tells the rest of the team, have at it. Now, Cromartie’s never won any awards for being the brightest bulb, so, I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to stir up that hornet’s nest there in New England. Not me. But I think there must be something just trying to get these guys to a different level of energy that maybe they throughout was lacking last time.”
Mortensen agreed that Ryan’s comments overshadow his performance as a coach. “I think it does,” he said. “But you know, that’s Rex’s personality. If you knew his dad [former NFL coach Buddy Ryan], he’s not totally like his dad. You know, his dad spoke his peace, always did. So, it’s kind of like in the family blood, the family genes. But in a way it does kind of diminish the respect we should have for Rex as a coach.”
Asked his opinion of Ryan, Mortensen had plenty of good things to say. “Pretty good coach. Media figure, gets A-pluses,” he said. “There’s a lot of things about Rex I like. … Fun guy to be around, talks football, friendly. I mean, like a genuinely good guy. And as a coach, he’s kind of signed his — this is what he does. He’s going to talk. He’s going to say what’s on his mind.
“I think in a way it’s kind of like when he speaks something either he’s trying to take the heat off his team or he’s trying to basically have that whole thing, which is, If we’re going to talk the talk, we’re going to walk the walk.”
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is dealing with a shoulder injury, although it’s unclear exactly what the injury is or its severity. “He’s having surgery after the season, so he’s hurt,” Mortensen said. “I’ve heard different things on what the injury is.”
Mortensen said D’Brickashaw Ferguson and the rest of the Jets offensive line did a great job protecting Sanchez against the Colts, and that will again be a key Sunday. “If they hit Sanchez and and he lands on that shoulder, is he out of there? Now we’re playing with Mark Brunell or Kellen Clemens,” Mortensen said. “They did a great job of protecting him [against the Colts]. And Mark just played fair, as you know, it wasn’t great. That’s why I have a hard time seeing the Jets having chance of winning this game.”
Looking at the other AFC playoff game between the Ravens and Steelers, Mortensen said: “[Ravens quarterback] Joe Flacco has to put at least two touchdowns up and get 20 points on the board. Because we know what the result is going to be if it’s the last two minutes of the game and Ben Roethlisberger has the ball and it’s a three-point game or a one-point game or whatever. We know the Steelers are going to win that game, right? At least, that’s my feeling.”
Mortensen said his best guess now is that the Patriots and Packers will meet in the Super Bowl. But he noted that the Pats do not have any easy road. “I think that Belichick knows this, that the teams that are left in the AFC playoffs are all capable of beating them,” he said. “I actually think the Jets have the lesser chance of beating the Patriots of the [three] teams left. I think the Steelers can go in there and do it. I think the Ravens can go in there and do it. But I would never bet against the Patriots at this point.”
Touching on the Jets’ sideline trip incident and ensuing $100,000 fine from the league, Mortensen said: “I really think this is the jist of what happened there, is [the NFL] didn’t believe the Jets that Sal Alosi acted on his own, OK? That’s my feeling. They had no proof, but there was the suspicion that this was just not a Sal Alosi thing.”