While the Jets have pretty much held back with the trash talking this week in their matchup with the Steelers in Pittsburgh, it seems that the line is finally starting to be crossed. Even a little bit.
Two Jets safeties on Friday spoke out about the physical nature of the hitting that Steelers WR Hines Ward does on Sunday’s out on the field. Both had some choice words for Ward if he feels he’s going to get a shot in on one of the Jets Sunday.
“We’re going to deal with him early so he knows what type of game it’s going to be, and that none of that stuff is being tolerated,” Jets safety James Ihedigbo said.
What “none of that stuff” is remains to be seen. Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said the Jets refer to Ward as “the toughest player in the league, when no one’s looking.” Basically saying in so many words that Ward is a cheap shot artist.
The Jets took Pettine’s lead, and started running their mouths about Ward as well.
“We saw some of those plays, like in the Ravens game, he’s out there hitting Dawan Landry in the back, he came across and hit Ray Lewis in the back,” Jets safety Eric Smith said. “Ed Reed was 30 yards downfield and he’s going down and hitting him. It’s just unnecessary things like that that make you mad as a defender.”
While the safeties are crying like babies about Ward, one guy that seems to actually appreciate the hard nosed play of Ward is none other than Jets coach Rex Ryan, who knows all about the physical nature of Ward from his days in Baltimore as defensive coordinator.
“He’ll look for you now. If he can hit you, he’s going to. And I’ve seen him knock out a ton of guys before,” Ryan said. “Let’s face it, they changed a rule [for] Hines Ward about hitting a defenseless player and all that kind of stuff. But, quite honestly, he’s just finishing plays and there was no rule [before]. So he went out and he plays hard and he plays to the whistle. And that’s the kind of guy he is. I respect the heck out of Hines Ward.”
Maybe after a couple hits Sunday, Ryan’s safeties stop whining and will feel the same way.