As the Rex Ryan era enters its 5th season with the Jets it is appropriate to take a look back and see if the Rex Ryan who is coaching the Jets now still bears resemblance to one that started this era. Has he changed? Has that change been for the better? What has his evolution looked like and how does that affect this coming season? Those are the questions that need to be answered by the most interesting coach the Jets have ever had and certainly one of the best.
We will look at Rex Ryan through his own words in each of his first four years with the Jets. In the first part we will look at his beginnings in 2009. On Thursday we will look at the wild year that was 2010. Next Monday will focus on the drama of 2011 as times began to change. Next Thursday looks at a changed man in 2012 as everything that could go wrong did. Finally we will focus on 2013 and hopefully beyond.
After the late season collapse that ended Eric Mangini’s time with the Jets in 2008 the Jets were looking to go in a different direction. Mangini had Florham Park locked down like a fortress with absolutely no information coming out of the building and the personality he portrayed was stoic and antagonistic just like his mentor Bill Belichick. Enter Rex Ryan. Ryan was the long time defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens and the son of the great defensive mind Buddy Ryan. Rex was a straight shooter who said what he felt and believed not caring what anyone else thought. Here is the very first thing he said in his introductory press conference:
First off, with all the cameras I was looking for our new president back there (smiling). I think we’ll get to meet him in the next couple of years anyway. (From transcript printed in the New York Post from January 21, 2009)
That summed up Rex Ryan perfectly in his first statement he was already talking Super Bowl. He went on to describe what the hallmark of his teams would be in another quote from the same press conference:
We’re going to try to put pressure on everybody that we play with our style of play. We want to be known as the most physical football team in the NFL, and whatever that means, you figure it out. We’re going to take care of each other. The players will have each other’s backs. If you take a swipe at one of ours, we’ll take a swipe at two of yours, and that’s just the way this game is going to be played.
He carried that bravado into the season and proved there was substance behind his talk in Week 2 against the Patriots. During the week he left a recorded message on each season ticket holder’s voicemail imploring them to be loud then he showed he would not back down to Bill Belichick by saying this:
“I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings. I came here to win, let’s put it that way. I’m certainly not intimidated by New England or anybody else.”
Then he followed that up by beating the Patriots that day and serving notice to the rest of the league that something special was happening with the Jets.