It’s not easy finding someone who is willing to embrace the intense scrutiny that comes with coaching or playing for a New York City-area team. Many have tried and failed. Enter Jets coach Rex Ryan.
The big, blustery son of Buddy, Ryan has made a habit of writing huge checks with his mouth, from saying the Jets were the team to beat after sneaking into the playoffs with a 9-7 record in 2009, to guaranteeing a Super Bowl win. Ryan is indeed a rare character. His relationship with his players, Jets management, the media and his candor when speaking publicly makes for great press conferences.
But is he for real? Does Ryan believe the hype or is it just a smoke and mirror routine. Even money says what you see and hear is what you get.
Ryan made waves immediately after he was hired when he said he wasn’t here to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings. Nothing has changed since that day. Ryan emphasized that during a press conference on Saturday.
Ryan was asked if there was any difference between him now and his first game as Jets head coach in 2009. Ryan replied: “I’m still passionate, still the same deal. I think I’ve learned a lot. I really lean on my coaching staff to help me, especially the veterans on our staff, the Mike Westhoffs, the Bob Suttons and Bill Callahans.
“I lean on those guys a great deal, but I still think you get that same passion and fire I felt that first week [and] that’s still with me. I think it will be with me the rest of my life.”
It hasn’t been all roses for Ryan. Talk radio is full of football fans chiming in on Ryan’s personality. While many have chided him for his guarantees, most have embraced the happy-go-lucky, Kris Kringle-type persona Ryan exudes. It’s a trait that makes players want to run through a brick wall for him.
With two straight trips to the AFC championship game under his belt, Ryan has earned respect and a lot of room for error. And don’t think Jets management isn’t on board.
Jets owner Woody Johnson made a lot of noise a few years ago when he tried to get a stadium built on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Having a boisterous, cocky and brash coach fits right in with what Johnson wants. The question is, how long will it last?