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Boos-fuelled Ryan wants fresh fan attitude

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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Rex Ryan has moved on from last season. He hopes New York Jets fans can, too.

The coach refused to tell frustrated Jets fans Monday to take their boos elsewhere, but also reminded them that this is a new season, with new hopes and expectations.

"I'm not going to say I'm disappointed in our fans, but I think we need to move forward," Ryan said. "The things from the past are in the past. Let's just focus on what we have in front of us. We're all going to make mistakes. We're all going to turn the ball over.

"We don't like to, but those are things that are going to happen."

The subject came up because Mark Sanchez, competing with rookie Geno Smith for the starting job, was booed loudly by some of the 6,000 fans at SUNY Cortland on Saturday night when he threw an interception during the team's scrimmage. Sanchez had an NFL-leading 52 turnovers in the last two seasons, something that has left many fans hoping for Smith to win the job.

Antonio Cromartie, who made the interception, said Saturday he thought the reaction by fans was "bull" and added, "You don't come out here and boo anybody."

Ryan understands the fans' disappointment, even if he didn't particularly like the booing.

"Fans have the right to do anything they want," Ryan said. "I think with us, the entire team, this is our teammate no matter who it is in the green and white. We want our fans behind us at all times. Obviously, guys make mistakes. I think that's probably the reaction we had: We don't want our guys getting booed, especially from our fans because we all wear green and white, including our fans.

"This game's tough enough. We need to support each other. That's probably where Cro is coming from."

Although the scrimmage was free admission, Ryan insisted that fans "earned" the right to boo whenever they want to because "they're the paying customer."

If Sanchez wins the starting job, the fans might have extremely thin patience in the regular-season opener at home against Tampa Bay in Week 1. That means there could be boos for Sanchez if he struggles early.

Ryan insisted that public sentiment won't -- and has never -- played a role in the team's decisions.

"A fan's perspective, you don't factor that in," Ryan said. "You do what you think is -- dare I say it? -- in the best interest of your football team."

When it was suggested that Ryan might have been more defiant during his first few seasons as coach, he said that wouldn't have been the case.

"I don't think I ever would have told our fans, 'You better get behind us,"' he said. "There's no way I would've said that."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 6, 2013 D3

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