Jets Coach Rex Ryan, throwing a challenge flag during a game against the… (Bill Kostroun / Associated…)
Reporting from Indianapolis -- A year ago, New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan made waves at the scouting combine when he guaranteed his team would win the Super Bowl.
Ryan on Thursday raised eyebrows with what he wouldn't say.
"I know what everybody is thinking, all right," the bombastic coach said in his opening comments at the podium. "The return to the infamous Super Bowl guarantee was here. … Looking back, obviously it was a huge mistake to make that guarantee.
"At the time we were coming off two [AFC] championship games, I really thought it would be a thing that would actually motivate our team, you know, to really talk about the Super Bowl, to focus on the Super Bowl. But in hindsight, I think it put undue pressure on our team and we kind of lost focus and really we lost focus on what we do best."
The Jets finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs after losing their last three games.
"Obviously, we had a terrible season," Ryan said. "I'll take full responsibility for it. I think part of that guarantee really contributed to that.
"There were some lessons well-learned. I can promise you. But I know, looking individually at myself, there are several things I can improve in and get better. I'm looking forward to this season. I know I'll be better and I know each one of our guys will be better. I believe that."
Taking talents to South Beach?
A Peyton Manning photo the size of a drive-in movie screen still graces the front of Lucas Oil Stadium — site of this week's NFL scouting combine — but for how long? The quarterback's future with the Colts should be known within the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Dolphins fans have started a grass-roots campaign to lure the four-time MVP to Miami. Fans in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., have bought a billboard to advertise ManningtoMiami.com, complete with a doctored shot of Manning in Dolphins turquoise and orange.
The website promises a list of supporter names will be presented to the Dolphins and Manning's representatives.
Miami, as it happens, is one of only four teams against whom the Manning-led Colts have a losing record. They are 5-7 against the Dolphins, 1-2 against both the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers, and 7-10 against the New England Patriots.
Will Brady Quinn's mildly critical comments about Tim Tebow have an effect on Denver's decision on whether to re-sign the former Notre Dame quarterback?
"No," Broncos Coach John Fox said Thursday. "I already know the relationship. I know [Brady] was a great teammate to Tim. We still like Brady."
That doesn't mean Quinn, a free agent, is coming back, of course. But Fox didn't seem rattled about the quarterback's recent remarks in a GQ magazine article.
In the story, Quinn questions Tebow's humility: "If you look at it as a whole, there's a lot of things that just don't seem very humble to me. When I get that opportunity, I'll continue to lead not necessarily by trying to get in front of the camera and praying but by praying with my teammates, you know?"
Quinn also suggests it was fan pressure that caused the Broncos to buckle and start Tebow, even though Quinn had been No. 2 on the depth chart behind the injured Kyle Orton.
"Early in the season, there was a game when Kyle got hurt and the coaches were calling for me to go in, but Kyle got up and finished the game out," Quinn said. "So I was the second-string guy. Then, a few weeks later, they decided to put Tim in. I felt like the fans had a lot to do with that. Just 'cause they were chanting his name. There was a big calling for him. No, I didn't have any billboards. That would have been nice."
Said Fox on Thursday: "Knowing their relationship, knowing both Brady and Tim very well myself, sometimes things get lost in translation. I know their relationship is very close. They have a lot of respect for each other. They're very good teammates with each other. That's kind of what I know. It's hard for me to stay up with all the comments."
Chip off old blocker
Frank Kalil was an offensive lineman who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills and later played in the USFL. He lived in the trenches, and it was that expertise he passed along to his sons Ryan and Matt, both former USC standouts. Ryan is the Pro Bowl center for Carolina; Matt is a left tackle and potential top-five pick.
"For my dad, 'Let's play football' means let's go do kick steps and let's work O-line drills," Matt said Thursday, recalling his practice sessions as a kid at Butterfield Park in Corona. "My first time going to Servite [High], I tried to play tight end as a freshman and my dad went on the field and said, 'No, he's playing left tackle.' That pretty much ended that dream."
Matt said he and eventual Servite and USC teammate Chris Galippo served as Ryan's blocking dummies, "getting tossed around. Bloody knees and all that. Basically getting beaten up on every drill."
Turns out, it paid off for both young players. Galippo is a linebacker at the combine.