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Rex Ryan and the Art of Expectation Setting

With the New York Giants victory in the Super Bowl, it's worth taking a look back at a pivotal reputation-building moment in December when the Giants faced cross-town rivals, the New York Jets.

Rex Ryan, coach of the Jets, has always been known as a colorful character--fueled by his personal life to his willingness to say whatever he feels at the moment in a direct, spontaneous way to reporters.

In the New York media market he has been a source of joy for national and local media, especially the tabloid New York Post.

Ryan enjoys the spotlight, which can be good, but loving being the center of attention can cloud your judgment.

Ryan was at it again as the Jets geared up to meet the New York Giants in the cross-town rivalry bowl. Here are a few of his comments in advance of the game.

"Quite honestly, I never came here to be little brother to anybody," Ryan said. "So, it’s on."....

"Certainly, we were the better team the first two years," Ryan said. "We made the playoffs and went to the championship game. To say a team’s better than you that never made the playoffs, just is ridiculous. Clearly, we were the better team my first two years. And we get to prove it on Saturday who the best team is this year."....

Does Ryan deserve the label "very disrespectful bastard" given to him by Giants Brandon Jacobs, who made this comment after an altercation with Ryan during the Giants' 29-14? You can make that judgment by listening and reading here.

I wouldn't use that harsh a term, but I would say that Ryan needs to get media training, not to help him be more media friendly, he's got that down.  Ryan needs training on issues management, the strategic judgement to know when you are motivating and instilling confidence in your team, and when you're helping your opposition.

Ryan's comments above are  a perfect example. The previous week, the Jets had been stomped by the Eagles 45-19. Ryan bragging and trash talking after his team had lost by 26 points made his remarks hollow.

Ryan might have thought he was psyching up his team, but instead he was motivating the Giants.

There's a time for trash talk and motivating a team with high expectations and there's a time to stay quiet, position as the underdog and let your win speak for itself.

By not knowing the difference, Ryan's over-the-top approach hurts his reputation.  Like the boy who cried wolf, Ryan's next pronouncements will leave management, fans and his own players wondering whether to believe his bluster.