NEW YORK (AP) — Robert Saleh is hearing plenty of criticism these days — from the fans, media and now, the always boisterous Rex Ryan.
The current Jets coach was ripped Monday morning on ESPN Radio by Ryan, who led the team from 2009-14, for New York’s 2-7 start punctuated by embarrassing showings on defense. Ryan, now an analyst for ESPN, said he also takes it personal some have likened the energetic Saleh to him “but without the bad part.”
When asked about Ryan’s comments a few hours later during his weekly appearance on ESPN Radio, Saleh didn’t back down.
“I’ve never met Rex,” Saleh said on “The Michael Kay Show.” “I’ve never had a conversation with Rex. I don’t even know him, except for people who know him throughout the league. Obviously, if it’s that personal for him, he knows where to find me.”
It all started when Ryan went on a rant during the “DiPietro & Rothenberg Show” while talking about the Jets’ start — and how Saleh’s defense has been dreadful.
The Jets have allowed 175 points in their past four games, and are the first NFL team to give up at least 45 points three times in a four-game span since the Giants in 1966, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
“This guy is supposed to be a defensive guru,” Ryan said, referring to Saleh’s past jobs as a defensive coordinator. “I take it personal. Everything I heard was this guy is a lot like myself, but without the bad part. Some of the bad part you need, because this team doesn’t want to play with any damn heart. That’s the thing that is disappointing to me.
“Don’t ever compare this Robert Saleh guy to me.”
Ryan’s defenses with the Jets never ranked lower than 11th in total yards allowed in his six seasons, when he went 46-50. The defense led by Saleh and coordinator Jeff Ulbrich currently ranks 32nd — last in the NFL. Ryan also said the defenses in San Francisco under Saleh were a top-caliber unit only once, and otherwise were last in the NFC West.
“They are going to be dead last again, so he’s going to be used to that,” Ryan said. “To me, I am little pissed off about it when I heard his background is a lot like yours. No it isn’t. No it isn’t.”
Meanwhile, Saleh’s brother David added to the showdown by taking a swipe on Twitter at Ryan, who led the Jets to the AFC championship game during the 2009 and ‘10 seasons. That’s also the most recent time New York has made the postseason.
“Rex Ryan took over a good (Eric) Mangini roster,” David Saleh tweeted. “Won with it the 1st 2 years and lost with his own roster every year after. The only person making comparisons is you in an effort to stay relevant. Stick to podiatry and eating cheese burgers clown!”
The last comment was a reference to a few headline-making incidents during Ryan’s tenure with the Jets. Robert Saleh kept it less personal during his radio spot when he was asked if he was taken aback by what Ryan said.
“Nah, I’m not surprised by him,” the Jets coach said. “He’s always got something to say.”
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