Peyton Manning wasn’t his usual stonewalled self earlier this week. The four-time NFL?MVP verbally stumbled around a question.

 

Who, exactly, are the New York Jets?

 

Manning clammered on about the league best running game, the league’s best defense and the maturation of young players. Then he paused and shook his head.

 

“Well, I?guess they’re a lot of things,” he said.

Of all things, though, the New York Jets are Rex Ryan’s team.

Thursday marked a year since Ryan marched to the podium at his introductory news conference and boasted he’d have a Lombardi Trophy in two years. Ryan, who never met a microphone he didn’t like, immediately won over fans and was hailed as the perfect fit for the snake-bitten franchise when the season started 3-0. Yet it was Ryan who bore the brunt of the criticism when the team struggled midseason.

“They believed in the system,” Ryan said. “I think that’s why we were able to hang on to that rope and pull the same direction and find a way to get it done.”

Ryan had their back the whole time. Love him or hate him, Ryan’s polarizing comments refreshed the mentality of the franchise.

“He’s on the front line with his players,” Bart Scott said. “When you have someone that confident believing in you, you start to believe in yourself, too.”