There was no filter on Ryan in 2009. He broke down and cried after the Jacksonville game and declared the Jets out of the playoffs prematurely after a Week 15 loss to the Falcons. He openly said he was hoping the Colts would rest their starters in Week 16 giving the Jets a chance to sneak in the playoffs. All of those things are not what head coaches normally say or do. Other coaches learn to talk a lot without saying anything, to speak in tired clichés and never rile up the opposition. Ryan was just himself.
As the Jets entered the playoffs as prohibitive underdogs Rex Ryan was unfazed when he was asked about the long odds in Vegas he delivered this response:
“I wasn’t aware of that,” Ryan said when asked about being underdogs. “But to me we should be favorites. I mean in the whole tournament. I think we have the best defense; I know we do. I think we have the best rushing attack. I want this football team. If I had a choice to coach any team in this tournament, I would choose this one.”
His confidence in his team drove them to victories over the Bengals and Chargers and to within a half of going to the Super Bowl.
2009 Rex Ryan was on a mission to prove to himself, his players, the fans, and the rest of the league that his brash, honest, open style could work. The Jets embodied Ryan’s message as they were physical both offensively as they led the league in rushing and on defense as they were number 1 in the league. Ryan had his philosophies and coaching style validated by 2009′s surprise run as an underdog and he was ready to be even more bold as a favorite in 2010.
Next time we will examine the 2010 Rex Ryan from Hard Knocks to another AFC Title game appearance and all of the fun in between. How would Rex evolve from 2009 to 2010? Hint: He would turn the volume up to 11.