Rex Ryan, New York Jets still talking the talk after 6-10 season
- By Kimberly Jones
- Updated: Jan. 9, 2013 at 11:31 a.m.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The sentences came out staccato style, fast, high-pitched, clustered. As if Rex Ryan thought he was on the clock.
"We're going to be the team that you don't want to play," the New York Jets head coach said. "(And show) that we are a dangerous football team. We're going to attack you from the minute that whistle blows (and) we're going to attack you on offense, defense and special teams. That's what I have to give the fans."
Here we go again. Only in Florham Park -- 1 Jets Drive, in particular -- do actions never, ever speak louder than words.
On Tuesday, Ryan and Jets owner Woody Johnson turned a six-win season into a coronation. Ryan soon will hire his third offensive coordinator in as many years and promises, this time, to immerse himself in the offense more than ever. This after he allowed Mark Sanchez to submarine the season with interception after predictable interception and covered his eyes to the failed Tim Tebow experiment.
The owner's reaction? "I think Rex Ryan is perfect for the New York Jets."
So there you have it. The circus, the headlines, the empty blather. Johnson likes it this way.
Do you want to be the general manager of this group?
Ryan just completed his fourth season as head coach of the New York Jets. And while he admitted Tuesday that he sweated out his job security in the waning days of the 6-10 campaign, he needn't have.
Johnson sat alongside Ryan at the Jets' season-ending news conference, held a tidy nine days after the final game, a 28-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Twenty-eight-to-nine to the Bills, who fired their head coach, Chan Gailey, the next day.
Ryan met no such fate. "No," Johnson said, "I never considered that because my confidence in him as a coach obviously gives me the confidence to keep him as a coach."
(If you need a moment to reread that sentence, we understand.)
Ryan's Jets have lost 13 of their last 19 games, dating to December 2011. And this season didn't exactly feature a bunch of near misses; the Jets lost six games by 17 points or more.
Johnson described Ryan as "hardworking, very smart, sophisticated." So the Jets fired their general manager, Mike Tannenbaum, on Dec. 31, and their search for a successor continues. Whoever he is, he will inherit Ryan, who has two years remaining on his contract. And whoever he is, he will have to tolerate some of the delusion in which these Jets specialize.
"This is a new chance for me, and that's how I'm approaching it," Ryan said. "This is a beginning. It's certainly not an end. That's not how I'm looking at it. This is a beginning."
Only once did the Jets manage to win consecutive games, when Weeks 13 and 14 presented the Arizona Cardinals and the Jacksonville Jaguars. No wonder Ryan embraces a do-over.
Make no mistake: Ryan is the man in charge here, his voice the biggest in the organization. He won the battle over Tannenbaum, who spent 15 years with the Jets. He fired offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who oversaw a bumbling, stumbling operation that ranked 30th in the league. (Ryan, inexplicably, said Sparano "did a tremendous job.") He announced that quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh won't be retained when his contract expires soon. The strength coach was canned. The defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, apparently wanted to spread his wings away from Ryan's shadow -- not too far away, though, according to reports that have Pettine staying in the AFC East, moving west to direct the Buffalo Bills' defense. (Secondary coach Dennis Thurman will fill Pettine's post for the Jets.) And special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff is retiring, which was known all season. (As planned, Ben Kotwica will take over.)
Ryan also went on vacation, to the Bahamas, where he claims to have had an epiphany. The problem with the Jets' offense, he decided, is that he has not left his imprint on it.
How can that possibly be true after four years?
"That's a great question," Ryan said. "I think I just have failed in that area."
Johnson nodded and smiled at both the question and the answer. Ryan went on to say he's always wanted an "all-weather offense," not necessarily "ground and pound." He wants unpredictable. He wants attack mode.
He mentioned running the pistol. Yes, the pistol. The new offensive coordinator, whoever he is, has been warned.
These are the New York Jets, who defy NFL convention.
Across town, the New York Giants privately continue to kick themselves for their failed season. Head coach Tom Coughlin said last week that he is "walking around like a crazy man" after missing the playoffs, and GM Jerry Reese struck a precise chord in saying, "We don't get paid here to go 9-7."
Ryan exhibits little regret and no angst. His words, however hollow, convey the unbridled optimism of a rookie head coach.
"Obviously, I'm no different than 31 other guys," Ryan said, alluding to a fraternity among head coaches. "We all have an incredible opportunity."
Well, that's just not true. Not even close. Rex Ryan is truly one of a kind. And, clearly, Woody & the Jets would have it no other way.