Combine notebook

Jets’ Ryan guarantees a Super Bowl victory

By Greg A. Bedard
Globe Staff / February 25, 2011

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INDIANAPOLIS — Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

Jets coach Rex Ryan stood up in front of a large crowd and said he believed his team would win the Super Bowl.

Yes, he did it when he was hired in 2009, and before last season.

“I just know what’s going to happen. My crystal ball, I’m seeing a Super Bowl trophy in there,’’ Ryan said last August. “I’m not embarrassed to say that I believe it will happen.’’

So in the football version of “Groundhog Day,’’ Ryan stood at the NFL Scouting Combine yesterday and saw the Jets casting a large shadow on the league once again — with a little more pizzazz thrown in.

“I believe this is the year that we’re going to win the Super Bowl,’’ Ryan said. “And the fact is I thought we’d win it the first two years, I guarantee we’ll win it this year.’’

Leave it to Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum to put Ryan’s repetitious optimism into context when told about the “g’’ word.

“He hasn’t done that for, what, about another five minutes?’’ Tannenbaum said. “That is just Rex being Rex. He is inherently confident.’’

But in the spirit of the boy who cried wolf, one has to wonder when people will stop taking Ryan seriously — his players included — if the message gets stale.

“I don’t care what people think,’’ said Ryan, who has led the Jets to the AFC Championship game in each of his first two seasons. “Why wouldn’t I believe it? Somebody tell me why I shouldn’t believe that we deserve to be a champion? I just know how I feel.’’

Ryan certainly believes he has a reason to feel confident.

“We’ve gotten better,’’ he said. “I know we got to the same place last year. It might not appear that we got better. But I thought we got a lot better last year. I think if we can improve a little bit more, why not us? We did beat the team with the most wins [the Patriots] in the playoffs. We’re the only team to make the Final Four the last two years. Why wouldn’t I be positive?’’

Well, for starters the Jets have a roster that’s in flux.

They decided to use the franchise tag on linebacker David Harris, meaning end Shaun Ellis, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, and receivers Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Brad Smith could become unrestricted free agents.

No matter what happens on the labor front, Ryan said his team — whatever way it’s constituted — should bring home a title.

“Right now, we have a plan for every scenario,’’ he said. “And we feel great about our plan. That’s why I can comfortably say that we’re making no excuses. We’re just going to find a way to get it done. That’s what we want to accomplish this year.

“To be honest with you, another reason I made that statement that we’ll win it this year is I’m going to see if I can will a championship. Anything it takes.’’

Ryan did admit, however, that the Patriots are still king of the hill in the AFC East. And that’s no jive.

“No, they were the AFC East division champions the last two years,’’ Ryan said. “So I would say without question we’re behind them still.’’

Dolphins make moves A few hours after Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland told reporters nothing was going on with free agent tight end Jeremy Shockey and the contract negotiation with nose tackle Paul Soliai, the team made significant moves with both.

According to reports, Shockey, days after the University of Miami product was released by the Saints, passed a physical with the team.

And the Dolphins placed the franchise tag on Soliai, the team’s fourth-round pick in 2007. Soliai’s salary will go from a base salary of $550,000 to more than $12 million if he plays under the tag. The Dolphins and agent David Canter are hoping to reach an agreement on a multiyear contract.

Ireland acknowledged the team has several holes to fill, including quarterback, running back, tight end, and along the offensive line. He also hopes to add speed.

“We’ve got to worry about the Miami Dolphins, but obviously the Patriots, the Jets, and the Bills would say the same thing as the Dolphins: ‘We’re obsessed with winning the division,’ ’’ Ireland said. “We’re obsessed with finding out how to beat our opponents. So we pay attention to them. They pay attention to us. But it’s not going to dictate how we do business.’’

BC’s Castonzo tackles draft order Yesterday was the day for offensive linemen, tight ends, and specialists to meet with reporters, and Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo was among that group.

Castonzo officially measured in at 6 feet 7 inches and 311 pounds. Depending on the mock draft, he is ranked as either the best or second-best tackle in this draft, along with Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi.

During his time at the podium, an uber-confident Carimi declared himself to be the best tackle in the draft, but Castonzo, a biochemistry major, who said he has no interest in mock drafts, wasn’t about to get fired up by Carimi’s claim.

“That’s his opinion,’’ Castonzo said. “I’m not going to stand up here and say I’m better than him or he’s better than me. It’s for the scouts to decide based on what we’ve put on film.’’

He added that Carimi is a “joker’’ and a “fun guy to be around.’’

Castonzo will begin interviewing with clubs today, when team officials will learn that he is interested in medical research and has designs on earning a master’s degree or PhD after his playing days are over.

But as impressive as his academic aspirations are, Castonzo’s first love is football.

“I would like to land anywhere,’’ he said when asked if he had a team preference. “My lifelong dream has been to play in the NFL.’’

Woicik gets strong backing On Wednesday, former Patriots coach Mike Woicik was named the NFL’s strength and conditioning coach of the year. It was the third time in his career that Woicik has been so recognized; the award is determined by his peers in the league. Woicik left New England this month and returned to Dallas, where he was strength coach from 1990-96 and won three Super Bowl rings.

Greg A. Bedard can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @greg_a_bedard.

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