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Believe it: Ryan remains confident Jets will win Super Bowl

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  • By Simon Samano NFL.com
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Think back to late February, when the NFL lockout loomed and bogged down hopes of a 2011 season. Yet that didn't stop New York Jets coach Rex Ryan from being his braggadocious self.

With a microphone in front of him, and a large media contingency recording his every word at the NFL Scouting Combine, Ryan came strong -- not surprisingly -- with a prediction: The Jets would win the next Super Bowl.

Ryan said it with such conviction, it was believable back then that, after making two previous AFC Championship Games, the third time would be the charm.

Fast forward nine months. Ryan's squad is living and breathing mediocrity entering Thursday night's game against the Denver Broncos. The Jets sport a 5-4 record, and if the season ended today, they'd be out of the playoffs.

Not that Ryan is panicking.

"This whole thing's set on us winning games in December and January," Ryan told NFL Network's Deion Sanders in an interview that aired Thursday. "Obviously, you've got to win enough of them to make sure you get those opportunities for meaningful games in the postseason and things. But that's how you do it. We don't have to be the best team right now. We want to be the best team at the end of the season."

For the time being, the Jets aren't close to the best team in their division after being swept by the New England Patriots at home in embarrassing fashion four days ago. With seven games to play, the Patriots essentially lead the AFC East by two games, which has put a damper on New York's hopes of winning the division and finally hosting a playoff game.

Not that Ryan is panicking about that, either.

"Obviously, just going into the season, I felt great. I thought this would be the year we'd win our division," Ryan said. "But, you know, obviously it looks doubtful now. ... I'm realistic about it. But that wasn't our goal anyway. You know we only got one goal."

Many would point to the Jets' underperforming offense as the primary reason for their current mediocre standing. Even with receiving weapons such as Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller, and a running game featuring two proven backs in Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson, New York ranks just 23rd overall in total offense.

Those results lend to finger pointing at quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has come under fire for not making the strides many believed he would in his third season. He has been no better than average, throwing for 2,081 yards and 14 touchdowns with nine interceptions for an 81.5 passer rating.

Truth be told, Sanchez's passer rating is higher than in his previous two seasons. But the expectation entering this season was that he would take off and lead the Jets to the promised land.

That hasn't been the case, but Ryan isn't ready to place all the blame on his quarterback.

"Well, I think it's moving, it's just we're not as consistent as we'd like to be," Ryan said. "You know, sometimes it might be protection, sometimes it might be a poor throw. Sometimes it might be a guy making a great play. I don't know, but you know as well as I do, this season's not over."

And for Ryan, winning the Super Bowl still is well within reach, even if it doesn't seem so at the moment.

"I don't know if we're good enough right now," Ryan said, "but I think by the end of the season, we will be."

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