The Evolution of New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan: 2009

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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.

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  • matr dontelli iii

    2009 was a great run. The media loved Rex, he was a headline a day. Nearly every game we lost was due to mark making too many mistakes to overcome. Rex pushed the team to achieve far more than anyone expected, yet when we got to the end of the season did anyone doubt we would beat Cincinnati in those two games? For anyone who thinks we should move on from Rex, 2009 is something they should think about before we let Rex go someplace else.

    • Craig Hoffman

      I think he returns to his 2009 roots this year and earns a contract extension. He game plans well and motivates better than most.

    • Frank Antonelli

      Just imagine if Brett Favre was our QB in 2009 and 2010. We might have won back to back Super Bowls. Rex was asked what he would have done if they weren’t able to get Sanchez. He said he would have flown to Brett’s ranch and convinced him to play for the Jets. Oh how I wish we could go back in time!

      • matr dontelli iii

        i don’t think favre would have been the solution, but we know mark wasn’t, therefore the possibility at least exists that favre could have brought us over the hump. as far as 2010 the biggest problem was the defense spotting the steelers 17 points on their home turf, never a good way to start a championship game.

      • Craig Hoffman

        What if’s are tough to play out. Favre’s situation with Jen Sterger might have blown up much earlier and killed 2009. The team would not have been able to sneak up on anyone like they did the first half of the season either but Favre could have put those teams over the top.

  • Joe Willie

    A lot of fans are like “rags in the wind” whatever the media blows at them they follow–the media circus has been on Rex’s case the last 2 years–8-8—6-10–with the worst QB is the league and mediocre talent (mr T) and its like he’s gone 2-30 while the NFL network is honking clown horns every time they mention the Jets name–the media are the clowns –the non story driven media is the circus. I look and listen to NFL AM (not anymore)at the talking heads and I say to myself “you people should be as good at your job as Rex is doing his” instead of just crossing your legs good- eye candy -or relating from ur NFL career where nobody knew your name–same goes for the so called columnists –BUT like I said, very few fans think with their own critical mind..their just driven to wherever the highly commercial, non professional journalistic media drives them like sheep–over the cliff. Not me! Rex is one hell of a football mind –ask the players—he just needs to be more diplomatic with his off the cuff remarks till we start winning again -THIS YEAR.

    • Craig Hoffman

      I think Rex is one of the best coaches in the history of the franchise I look forward to this year when he removes the muzzle he wore the last two years and stays true to himself in his public persona as well.

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